With the surge in new debutantes in both training and teaching there is a modern trend to popularise innovative new techniques, specific isolation exercises or ‘core strength’ training as the nirvana for focus of gym work with as many weird and wonderful promises to change your body in as many days – both for those needing to shed weight as well as those desperate to gain. People can be so gullible as we know and it’s a shame as after a short flurry of activity, efforts and motivation dry up.
Remember some of the ads that appear now and again inviting you to learn a new language in 10 days – well, like many of the claims and assertions in the exercise world, it just doesn’t add up. Of course desperate people drawn to desperate measures latch on to these claims, with little gains other than bigger holes in their pocket and diary. But if you are serious about a new language you don’t have to be Einstein – just be patient, consistent and hardworking. Anyone can do it if that’s really what they want. – starting out with a good teacher, forming the basic verb foundations, evolving into past and future tenses and forming the very sound structure that establishes the basis for a new way of communicating.
It’s the same with good training practice in the gym. If you haven’t done your basics and formed a solid foundation you will always be searching elusively for ways to make progress instead of them coming to you.
The job in identifying your task is not looking for short cuts, cheap deals or easy ways out. Like many things in life, the journey on a slow positive curve brings the fullest satisfaction and the ongoing sense of achievement, being self motivational.
Most desperate individuals who need to make inroads into better fitness have fallen into the ‘lazy trap’ of poor habits both in their diet and training as well as poor lifestyle habits. Lifestyle habits are not under scrutiny in this newsletter, on this occasion! – you can look into that yourself, but we can discuss how best to spend your energies if you want to really make some significant inroads into grasping some real training techniques.
These techniques can aid the overweight to develop fantastic rhythm and momentum when training, reducing the need for excessive, separate or more aerobic work and help to increase metabolic rate… and calories usage – WHEN AWAY FROM THE GYM! Now that’s a recipe for success.
For those who need to increase their power to weight, add power to their punch, more strength to their ‘core’ or more core to their strength!, these techniques blast stimulus into the system and, provided you are eating appropriately, add might and body to the muscle and muscle to the body.
Change in whichever positive direction you are seeking is straightforward – just a little bit of hard work, regularity and patience…. and good guidance in formulating the right balance of movement/sets/reps and effort ratio to suit you.
Use the Maximum Fitness Team – that’s what we are here for!
The body thrives on effort through balance and coordination stimuli, and pushing through multijoint exercises provides key inputs to improve these functions.
It is really quite simple. All joints have a ROM (range of motion) potential. They also have a MWP (maximal workload potential). Both these areas rely on good muscle length and strength. Working towards the limits of both these areas with natural coordinated resisted movements produces very positive and worthwhile regenerative changes.
But all this is not new.
In my earlier days in the 1970’s on some of my travels through India I searched out an old gym in the depths of Calcutta. It was established at the turn of the century by an Indian fakir (still alive at the time) who taught body strengthening and even at the time had a good complement of local students and enthusiasts. Amongst them was the current Mr. India who I had the pleasure to train with. The benches and machines were solid wood and smoothly worn over the decades (much like the steps of St Paul’s Cathedral) and wonderful to use. The weights were the solid dumbbell and big round barbell, styles typical of early 20th century equipment. That was interesting but guess what – many of these techniques and exercises were being used then and handed down over the decades. So no secrets there, just balanced hard work. In the late 70’s I was lucky enough to have several spells working in Lagos with the Romanian coaches with the Nigerian Olympic weightlifting team (who went on to do very well at that time) – they were using these principals. Being fortunate enough to contribute to conditioning coaching to some of our past Olympic teams as well as working with 1000’s of people over the years has given me a deep insight into the time (and results) wasting that can happen if you train without your foundation.
Looking at an overview of the musculo-skeletal system and the way in which the joints move – the goal is to harness the way in which these actions take place over the fullest plane of motion with maximal safe resistance. Incorporating all major muscles and joints and therefore all the smaller accessory muscles and joints.
This is called the big picture. There are some 600 muscles in the body and 200 or so bones, the biggest being the thigh bone and the smallest tucked away inside your inner ear. Not all muscles are involved in movement as such but most are. The biggest of these – the gluteals are very much involved in hip extension and lower back stability. The smaller muscles are some of those interconnecting in joints around the fingers and toes. The muscles are divided into prime movers – muscles that extend or contract, and accessory muscles that help to stabilise actions of these prime movers. By looking at the ‘BIG PICTURE’ we can incorporate movements to maximise all of these muscle structures to maximise rewards when training. This ‘feels good’ to do as it is using the body with full motion that requires coordination. It’s just a little hard work. This incorporates the knees and hips fully bending and straightening, the shoulders fully extending overhead and forwards, the spine and upper body bending forward towards the hips and also lifting up from the hips, and the hips bending towards the upper body. The arms pushing away from you, lifting up from below waist height and pushing and extending down to waist level.
STANDING CALF RAISES
The foot and ankle extend Best Exercise
FULL SQUATS (Either back or front)
The lower limbs: The hip flexes – The knees bend – Best Exercise
CLEAN AND PRESS
– Shoulder girdle and joint – Best Exercise
PULLDOWN BEHIND NECK
Upper back and inner back Best Exercise
Pulldown Behind Neck
STIFF LEG DEADLIFT
– Lower back and posterior thigh – Best Exercise
PULLOVER – PRESS
– Thoracic region (chest and rib cage) – Best Exercise
(Free or machine/bench)
SIT UP CURLS
(Hanging or incline)
When doing dips – for the ladies and debutantes, these are best carried out with hands behind on a bench. For the guys and harder trainers, use the dipping station, and to keep the effort up and tie in the right reps, add weight accordingly.
N.B. When we look at abdominal work it is important to understand how much we rely on the Hip Flexor muscles, as most of the action in completing a sit up is done by this group of muscles – the abdominal group of muscles curling and holding the spine isometrically whilst the upper body curls forward. These are a controlling group again in carrying out leg raises whilst the abdominal muscles contract to stabilise the pelvis whilst the legs are lifted. Weak hip flexors as well as weak abdominals are known to be a major contributor to back pain as well as stability of hip and knee.
Completing this range of movements at whatever level is appropriate for you to do REGULALY; with good effort 2 or 3 x weekly is a great way to establish a firm and effective foundation for your efforts.
- For those looking to maximise strength and conditioning it is best to break the routine into super sets with reps in 8-10 region at 75% of 1RM (your 1 rep max) completing 3 sets of all exercises.
- For maximal effect on power and strength gains, use 4 x single sets with one warm-up at 70% of 1RM and 3 sets of 6 reps at 85+% of 1RM.
- For maximal fitness, aerobic and toning effects, 3 sets x 12 of each exercise at 60% of 1RM, broken into groups of tri-sets, but start with Calf Raises on their own, using Free Squats/Lunges and stretching in between sets here as warm up.
f you have special requirements, you needn’t keep every exercise the same.. it is poss to mix and match e.g. If you lack power and size in your legs you may want to stick to heavy single sets, Supersetting the upper body movements for maximum stregnth/conditioning, or use any other body part combinations. ( If in doubt about best way to harmonise the combination routine – book a session with one of the Maximum Fitness team)
Standing Calf Raise
Clean and Press
Pulldown to Neck.
Stiff Leg Deadlift
Of course this is all hard work and if your fitness doesn’t stretch to the ‘ideals’ listed above, simply go through the routine with 2 single sets of each movement with a weight that can give you a comfortable 10 reps and a hard 15!
Carry this out 3 x week for a month then lift the weight up and reduce reps to 10-12, and start superseding the following after 1st month (But start with Calf Raises as explained above)
Standing Calf Raise
Stiff Leg Deadlift
Clean and Press
Pulldown to Neck
This will form a sound foundation and give a little spring lift to your body if you keep it up. Any doubts about how to calculate the best weight to use or your 1RM (1 Rep Max) can be resolved by speaking with any of the Maximum Fitness Team or better still, booking a couple of 1-1 sessions to establish your tailored programme.